Baby product roundup: The best, the worst

First off, she's doing great. Still growing at an unbelievable rate (she's 3 months old and now the size of an average 6-month-old). Not sleeping through the night yet, though I hear rumors that this honestly reallyo trulio will happen one day ("Someday my sleep will come..."). Drooling a whole lot. Smiling and laughing. Making her mom melt.

There are two main comments people make when meeting her:
1. She's huge! and
2. She's so fair!

Both of these are surprises, as we're short and Italian. Well, Anthony's half Polish, which is where we assume the fair complexion and light hair comes from. She still lacks eyebrows, too. She looks darker in most photographs than she is, so I'll have to find one that's truer to life. She's the only person in the world who can make ME look tan (I'm mostly translucent).

And now for our product roundup.

While I was pregnant, I joined a pregnancy board where women talked about their "must-have" products for newborns. The top 3 things most moms mentioned were (a) a bouncer, (b) a swing, and (c) the Miracle Blanket. That hasn't held up for me, aside from maybe the Miracle Blanket. Maybe.

Sarina never took to her bouncer, and she's iffy about the Fisher-Price swing. Sometimes she stays in it, but she often fusses after about 10 minutes and wants out. It doesn't seem very comfortable; it's not cushiony. The Miracle Blanket was helpful for about a month, but she soon proved her Houdini Baby capability and managed to squiggle her way out of it every night.

But there are certainly other products I've loved, and a few I loathe. Here they are, not in much of an order.

The Best

The Moby Wrap Baby Carrier: Really just a long piece of slightly stretchy fabric and an instruction manual, this wrap allows me to walk around freely while holding Sarina. It took me 5 minutes to learn how to use it, and she was shorty asleep in my arms. I thought the Baby Bjorn was great until I got this-- big difference. The Bjorn is faster to use (it takes me about 3-4 minutes to get Sarina wrapped right into the Moby each time, versus about a minute for the Bjorn), but it isn't soft, and there are plastic clips and ties and things that could pinch her. The Moby is just fabric. And people really are fascinated by it. The one I have is the one in the picture (in indigo). I plan to splurge soon and get it in another color, too. You kind of need a backup unless you do laundry every 7 seconds.

-Fisher-Price Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym (also known as the Rainforest Activity Gym): She has adored this since she was just a couple of weeks old. She gets fascinated by different toys each time, but primarily loves to watch the red and yellow lights blink on and off. It's a brightly colored apparatus with things that crinkle, rattle, and spin, plus the ubiquitous mirror. The music is withstandable even after the 100th time it repeats.

-Gerber Nuk Newborn Pacifiers: The only kind she even mildly likes. Small and shaped right for her to hold onto.

-Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Newborn Feeding Set: Definitely noticed an improvement in fussiness after we started using these. No drop-ins to burst (Playtex), no leaks (Vent Aire-- ugh!). A pain in the butt to have to wash the two extra thingamafreds each time, but worth it. Stock up on the skinny brushes that come with the spongy bottle brushes.

-Precious Moments mobile: One of the first things she ever smiled at, this one gets her all excited. Only problem is that it's a wind-up that lasts only about a minute, so I have to stand there winding and winding again.

-Playtex Embrace Breast Pump System: I'm a "full time" pumper, every 2 1/2 hours for the past 3 months, and this is what gets me through. When I researched pumps originally, I was torn because the double electric pumps like this were expensive (to my mind), but reviewers all said that the manual pumps and the single electric ones were pretty frustrating or worthless. So my aunt bought me the Playtex Embrace, and I felt a bit greedy, getting such an expensive piece of machinery for what I assumed I'd need only for rare occasions. Then came the breastfeeding problems, and I unexpectedly needed to use a pump 6 or 7 times daily, and was SOOOOooooOOoooOO glad I didn't go for something cheaper. A belt broke a couple weeks ago and the company sent me a new unit overnight.

-The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD: A lot of filler on the DVD, but the "shushing" and head jiggling techniques worked for us.

-Laura Ashley stroller and car seat (travel system): Pretty, easy to fold and unfold, easy to push around, comfortable for her... very happy with this.

-Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer: Nothing's too good for our baby's butt. Doesn't dry out the wipes, and has worked well.

-Prince Lionheart Complete Drying Station: I keep this next to the sink. Everything fits on it, and it keeps my counter neat and dry.

The Worst

-Diaper Genie II: You have to stick your hand in to push down the diapers and wipes each time, really smushing them in there... which, as you might imagine, gets gross. My parents bought the Baby Trend Diaper Champ for their house. We haven't used it enough for me to be sure if it keeps all the stink away, but it's about a million times nicer to use as far as not having to stick your hands in poop to get rid of the diapers (and you don't need to buy special bags-- you can even use grocery bags).

-My Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow: Someone recommended this to me, but I can't figure out why. It's more expensive than the Boppy, it's hard, it's cumbersome, and you have to fasten yourself into it each time. Didn't fit us right. If I had it to do over, I wish I'd have bought a Boppy instead.

-Little Einstein music CDs: Earplugs just aren't strong enough.

-Mother's Milk tea: Had the opposite of its intended effect on me.

-Fisher-Price Aquarium Bath Center: She hated the hammock thingee, and was pretty much too big for it from birth (read: not good for tall babies). It's also a pain to get the hammock part clean. Now she's in the main part of the tub, but there's a plastic hump that falls in the wrong place for her, and she tries to stand up when it makes her uncomfortable. Egads. I'm always soaked and frazzled after trying to bathe her. I plan to buy a different tub soon.

-Huggies Gentle Care diapers: You've never seen a diaper blowout until you've seen what Sarina can accomplish when wearing these horrible, horrible diapers. I mean, poop everywhere. And I had to be dumb enough to put one on her before putting her in the car seat. I'm going to be cleaning poop out of the car until 2026. (Hey, can anyone recommend a really good diaper? So far the best of the lot for us is Pampers Baby Dry, but she still has about a 50% blowout rate.)

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